19 Jul 2004

Fiji sugar meetings on restructuring this week hailed as crucial

1:19 pm on 19 July 2004

The chairman of the Fiji Sugar Commission says a series of high-level meetings this week to discuss implementing reforms to the sugar industry is crucial to its future.

Gerald Barrack says a 15 strong delegation from India , which has drawn up the recommendations, is meeting with the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, and the Cane Growers Council today.

He says further discussions are being held throughout the week with the Fiji Sugar Corporation, the millers and others involved in the industry.

Mr Barrack says unlike earlier reports which were never implemented, he's confident the restructuring will go ahead this time.

"The prime minister himself has taken the responsibility for the restructure of the industry within the government system, and he has a special committee of cabinet. And, he..and I believe him, he is determined that we should make these changes in order to survive."

Mr Barrack says Mr Qarase wants the restructuring to begin within the month.

The recommendations include reducing the costs of production, increasing productivity, introducing new equipment to the mills, and going back to earlier levels of production of about 4.3 million tonnes.